Pastor Paul's monthly message

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September: Our new bishop to visit Bethany

Dear Bethanians,

“The Bishop is coming. The Bishop is coming” (Sunday, Sept. 15).

There will be all sorts of things I had planned to highlight in this September edition of Life Together … but, “the Bishop is coming.”

I intended to introduce our new Prayer Partner program, matching our Sunday School students with those of more mature faith (OK, chronologically more mature), but “the Bishop is coming.”

It was at the fore of my mind to remind everyone of our wonderful partnership with the Church of Steadfast Love, and an annual event that brings our fellowships together, this year on Monday, Sept. 23, when we will enjoy the Museum of History & Industry together (sign up, please), but “the Bishop is

I had considered an all-out emphasis on recruiting for the CROP Walk on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 2 p.m., an interfaith effort to combat hunger locally (Fishline and Helpline) and globally (Church World Service and Lutheran World Relief), but “the Bishop is coming.”

Oh, and there was a likelihood that I was going to draw to your attention the world premiere of a film taking place at Trinity Lutheran Church of Lynnwood, with Rick Steves (a member there) and our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton doing the introduction. All on Monday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m., for which we have 10 tickets. (Sign up, please), but “the Bishop is coming.

And there was a fair chance that I would mention the possibility of a Bethany group attending an early viewing of “Downton Abbey,” the movie, on Thursday, Sept. 12, (Bainbridge Cinemas), with the option of food beforehand (English fish and chips, anyone?). This film looks to be of interest to someone who has seen every episode (me), especially since the storyline seems to be preparing for a royal visit to the stately mansion, but, alas, “the Bishop is coming.”

You see how I did that? As Downton is preparing for the king and queen, Bethany will be preparing to host the Bishop (we will not Pawn off this opportunity even one Knight) in our Castle. OK, I got that off my Chessed.

But indeed, Shelley Bryan Wee, the newly elected bishop of the Northwest Washington Synod of the ELCA, will be visiting Bethany on Sunday, Sept. 15, preaching at our 9:30 a.m. worship, and introducing herself at our adult ed that morning following worship. These arrangements were just made, as we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ordination of Pastor Shirley Funk (9/4/69). We have asked Bishop Shelley to be here for this occasion, and moreover as we celebrate 50 years of the ordination of women in our Lutheran denomination. I think that is worthy of a party, so “the Bishop is coming.”

We hope to see you here … for all of the above.

Posted by Paul Stumme-Diers with

For all that will be, yes

Dear Bethanians,

The November “Life Together” submission always lands between Reformation Sunday, the last Sunday in October, and All Saints Sunday, the first Sunday in November. The themes of these days work hard to pull us backwards in time, as we reflect on the Reformation and then remember those saints who have gone before us in the faith – the tendency would be to look over our shoulders, to immerse ourselves in nostalgia. And while there is much in our history to celebrate, we do well to remind ourselves that the good ol’ days weren’t always so good (The Plague, child labor, slavery, hunger and famine, a lack of women’s rights …), and to heed the warning of Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson when he visited Bethany for our centennial, ”Nostalgia is the biggest threat to the church.”

And so let us listen to the simple sentiments of another Lutheran, Dag Hammarskjold, who famously said, “For all this has been thanks. For all that will be, yes.”

We give thanks for our rich church history of promoting justification by faith, emphasizing a vocation rooted in baptism, and celebrating a priesthood of all believers. Here’s to an empowered and educated laity! We also give thanks for our commitment to assisting refugees, to combatting hunger globally, to advocating for civil rights. There is indeed much for which to give thanks, including the cloud of witnesses that accompanies us in our journey.

But I am drawn to focus on the “for all that will be, yes.” The parade of roses on the altar, signaling new birth; the assembly of children asking probing questions in our children’s sermons; the impressive young man confirmed this morning (Peter Bang-Knudsen) and the beautiful and energetic confirmation class in progress; we look to the Bethany project for affordable housing, and we hear in our ears the divine music of our worship – YES! YES! YES! For all that will be!

And let us also, as we look forward, continue to build on those things that produce gratitude within us. Let us continue to be a community of grace, and one that welcomes refugees. Let us press on with the noble work of fighting hunger, disease, and resultant poverty across the globe. And let us press on to continue to advocate, as a Reconciling-in-Christ congregation,  the value and the rights of the LGBTQ communities.

For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.

Pastor Paul

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